Bringing China one step closer to becoming a global leader in luxury cruise ship development and operation, the country’s first domestically built cruise ship has been named “Magic City,” a popular nickname for Shanghai. This significant milestone signifies China’s ambition in the industry, as reported by SCMP.
CSSC-Carnival, a joint venture between China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC) and Carnival, announced that a 323-meter-long ship is currently undergoing testing and will be delivered by the end of 2023. The naming ceremony, held in Shanghai, reflects the city’s confidence in capitalizing on pent-up travel demand and revitalizing the tourism sector after strict zero-Covid measures. Analysts believe that the cruise industry played a significant role in Shanghai’s tourism before the pandemic, and the city aims to establish itself as an international shipping centre. The CEO of Kate Travel Agency in Shanghai noted that when Chinese demand for cruises fully recovers, a domestically produced ship could be a source of national pride.
The Magic City
CSSC, the world’s largest shipbuilder, began constructing the ship in October 2019 at its subsidiary, Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding in Shanghai. This vessel, named the Magic City and operated by CSSC-Carnival’s brand Adora, required significantly more worker hours to build than a Capesize shipping vessel. With a gross tonnage of 135,500, the Magic City can accommodate up to 5,246 passengers. Shipbuilding is a core technology emphasised in China’s “Made in China 2025” industrial strategy. Shanghai, once Asia’s largest port for cruise lines, saw 2.5 million passengers in 2019 but faced severe setbacks due to the zero-Covid policy. However, the Ministry of Transport released guidelines in March to resume and promote cruise services, and since December 2022, Beijing has shifted toward living with the virus, fostering expectations for the recovery of the tourism sector, which heavily impacted over the past three years.
Earlier this year, Shanghai launched a fee-based cruise service on Suzhou Creek as part of a rehabilitation project worth 40 billion yuan. This initiative aimed to attract tourists and boost the city’s travel industry. In 2019, Shanghai’s tourism sector generated total revenue of 533 billion yuan, marking an 8% increase from the previous year. Fang Shizhong, the director of the Shanghai Administration of Culture and Tourism, expressed the authorities’ commitment to meeting the pent-up travel demand of local residents following the city’s emergence from the Covid-19 health crisis.
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